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Dillon summersaults on dual citizenship

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Barely two months following the reported defeat of the National Referendum particularly, the proposition on dual citizenship, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darious Dillon, who had joined the Collaborating Political Parties in opposing the Referendum, has now somersaulted.

Sen. Dillon is now about to proffer a bill, seeking for dual citizenship for Liberians in the diasporas who may have had Liberian citizenship prior to leaving here, to enjoy said rights.

Alternative National Congress leader Alexander Cummings said, the CPP of which Dillon is a stalwart, was never against the conduct of the referendum, but wanted it postponed based on what he calls ‘illegal conduct of the process and the lack of public awareness.’

According to him, the CPP supports the reduction of tenures and supports four year tenure for President, but wants the Referendum postponed. “Just in case, the government refuses to adhere to our calls, we want to urge our people to boycott the referendum and only vote for the Senatorial candidates,” he had stressed.

However, speaking in a news conference Tuesday, March 2, Senator Dillon said it is totally unfair for Liberians to be denied dual citizenship all because of circumstance which they have no control of.
“Me Darious Dillon of Grand Bassa, born and schooled in Bassa and later moved out of the country and to return I must apply for visa to come to Liberia is something that we must address through the law,” he said.

He added that he will submit a bill seeking to amend the Alien a Nationality Law of Liberia, which according to him, creates confusion that needs clarities for Liberians to still enjoy citizenship.

During the argument at the time, Dillon said that the referendum should not be held because of its untimeliness, only to see just two months after, the Montserrado County lawmaker is submitting a bill for dual citizenship.

Dillon said, he currently enjoys support of Liberians globally on the decision of amending the Citizen-Alien laws of Liberia and that he’s lobbying with his colleagues for a smooth passage. He explained that under the law, the rights of being a Liberian cannot be taken away by any means unless through the laws.

Senator Dillon builds his argument on theJalloh case of September 2019, the Legislature adopted a Joint Resolution (“The Resolution”) proposing a constitutional referendum to amend various articles of the Liberian Constitution. Proposition One of the Resolution (“The Proposition”) seeks to amend article 28 of the Constitution, repeal (by implication) section 22.1 of the Alien and Nationality Law, and grant all Liberians the right to acquire another nationality without losing their Liberian citizenship.

This Proposition is significant because many Liberians believe that article 28 prohibits dual citizenship under all circumstances. However, the Proposition restricts those with dual citizenship from occupying certain positions in the Government of Liberia.

It states that those with dual citizenship “shall not qualify for elected national or public service positions…”, unless they renounce the other citizenship. These restricted positions include Chief Justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, ministers and deputy ministers, heads of autonomous commissions, agencies and non-academic research and scientific institutions, ambassadors, chief of staff and deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

The Constitution does not prohibit dual citizenship in all instances. Rather, article 28 of the Constitution only imposes a restriction on one category of Liberians from obtaining dual citizenship. The Proposition will resolve this by expanding the right to dual citizenship to all Liberians, and by implication, repeal section 22.1 of ANL, if the referendum is successful.

While expanding the right of dual citizenship, the Proposition imposes an uneven burden on Liberians with dual citizenship by barring them from participating in “…elected national or public service positions…”

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor

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